Spring 2019 - 60060 - PA 388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Black Politics

Black Politics examines the political thought and practice of African Americans from the end of slavery to the present. The course defines “politics” broadly, ranging from movements to elect officals at the local, state, and national level to civic groups, fraternal association, religious, and cultural and educational movements that organized for political self-determination during the Age of Jim Crow segregation that gripped the nation for a century after salvery’s legal demise. A wide range of African Americans have organized themselves in public and private spheres in pursuit of political power; through womens clubs; civil rights organizations; self-help group; labor union; institutes of higher and vocational education; the creation of the public school system; and churches, Black politics has consistently sought to reimagine American democracy as a vehicle for political liberation, freedom, power, justice, love, and compassion. On this score activists supported liberal, conservative, moderate, and radical ideologies in search of a liberated future.  Black Republicans, Democrats, socialists, Marxists, Christians, atheists, feminists, and conservatives engaged in vigorous, at times contentious, debates over the direction of Black Politics that is sometimes reduced to the controversy between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. The Civil Rights Movement is perhaps the best known expression of Black Politics, but far from the only one. Efforts to secure decent housing, health care, good schools, clean neighborhoods, employment, safe spaces, playgrounds, clean water, and healthy environments represent one aspect of Black Politics that is too often reduced to a quest for symbolic representation (black faces in higher places) rather than, as political activist Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) famously advocated in 1966, a struggle for Black Power.

Students interested in black politics, civil rights, social policy and the deep connections between the historical development of racial justice struggles and contemporary policy debates and challenges would find this course of interest.